By Irene Nasser and Rhea Mogul, CNN
Thailand has received a request from former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to enter the country, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Tanee Sangrat said in a social media post on Wednesday.
Rajapaksa is currently in Singapore after fleeing Sri Lanka in July amid mass anti-government protests. Sangrat said that as a holder of a Sri Lankan diplomatic passport, Rajapaksa can enter Thailand without a visa for up to 90 days, emphasizing the stay is temporary and he is not seeking political asylum.
Sangrat did not mention when Rajapaksa intended on traveling to Thailand.
Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore on July 14, after initially fleeing Sri Lanka for Maldives, days after angry protesters stormed his official residence and office demanding he step down over his alleged mismanagement of the economy. Rajapaksa then tendered his resignation from Singapore.
Anger has been growing in Sri Lanka for months after the country’s foreign exchange reserves plummeted to record lows, with dollars running out to pay for essential imports including food, medicine and fuel.
The former leader’s hurried exit last month was a historic moment for the nation of 22 million, which the Rajapaksas had ruled with an iron fist for much of the past two decades, before losing the faith of their citizens.
Rajapaksa is not the first member of the family to have been president. His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, was elected to the top job in 2005 and achieved near legendary status in 2009 when he declared victory in the 26-year civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa served as defense secretary at the time, and the brothers were accused by rights groups of committing war crimes — allegations the family denies.
Most recently, many Sri Lankans have accused the Rajapaksas of mishandling the country’s economy.
After storming the presidential palace, thousands of jubilant Sri Lankans swam in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s pool, sang in his dining room, and danced around the opulent grounds of what was one of the country’s most heavily guarded buildings.
In the days following Rajapaksa’s resignation, lawmakers elected the former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as president, but anger remains as many protesters see him as inextricably tied to the former leader’s regime.
Wickremesinghe has appeared to distance himself from the Rajapaksas, telling CNN last month the previous government was “covering up facts” about its crippling financial crisis.
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